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HOME  > Past issues  > 2020 April 22 - May 12  > 7 unions in building industry call for protection of workers from COVID-19
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2020 April 22 - May 12 [LABOR]

7 unions in building industry call for protection of workers from COVID-19

April 29, 2020

Citing the daily morning meetings with nearly 600 workers assembling as an example of the difficulty in practicing physical distancing at construction sites, construction workers have been calling for thoroughgoing steps to prevent COVID-19 contamination at their workplaces and for other measures to protect their lives as well as their jobs during the ongoing crisis.

Seven unions related to the building industry on April 28 held a press conference in Tokyo and urged the national and local governments as well as general contractor construction companies to take necessary measures to help all construction workers survive the coronavirus crisis.

The seven unions are: prefectural Construction Workers’ Unions (Doken) of Tokyo, Saitama, Kanagawa, and Chiba; the Kanagawa Prefecture Construction Labor Union Federation; the All Japan Construction, Transport, and General Workers’ Union (CGT, Kenkoro); and the land and infrastructure ministry workers’ union.

The seven unions demanded that the state, municipalities, and prime contractors implement thorough preventive measures against the virus spread at construction sites, review construction project schedules, and provide financial support to builders and subcontractors affected by changes in the schedules. In addition, the seven unions demanded that the governments at both the national and local levels provide foreign trainees and self-employed construction workers with financial aid, expand the employment adjustment subsidy system, and increase financial support for construction workers’ health insurance programs.

At the press conference, a male individual contractor working at an apartment building construction site pointed out, “Every morning at the site, 500~600 workers converge in the basement of the building under construction to carry out the morning routine which includes warm-up exercises.” A male painting business owner who uses a Vietnamese trainee said, “At present, the building industry is excluded from the business suspension request. However, there is a possibility that the request will be applied to the industry. Given this possibility, I have a strong anxiety about how I can pay compensation to the trainee and continue to pay other employees. I hope the government will establish a system to provide financial support to coronavirus-affected foreign trainees.”
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